THE OWNER of an unlicensed pet shop sold tropical fish to undercover Isle of Wight Council officials.

Graham Leslie Ruthven was ordered to pay £2,500 in fines and costs after he sold two zebra danio fish to licensing officers who carried out a test purchase at Tropical World, in Union Street, Ryde, in October last year.

Mr Ruthven admitted selling animals without a licence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and was fined £1,500 and ordered to pay £1,000 costs and a victim surcharge at the IW Magistrates’ Court earlier this week.

Mr Ruthven was refused a pet shop licence in February 2018 after a vet, who visited as part of the application process, raised concerns as to the levels of care at the store.

Time was given for remedial works to take place, however, following a further inspection, standards were not improved sufficiently for a licence to be granted.

Mr Ruthven appealed but withdrew it when it was agreed a vet with no prior dealings with the premises would visit to carry out an independent assessment.

During this period, the council received reports Mr Ruthven was still selling animals, and a warning letter was sent advising him of the penalties for selling animals without a licence.

A vet from the mainland carried out an inspection in July 2018, and again, it was found standards at the premises fell below those required for a licence to be issued.

Further reports were received that Mr Ruthven was continuing to sell animals, and, in October 2018, a test purchase was carried out by officers from the licensing department. During this test purchase, an officer was sold two tropical fish.

Speaking after the case, Cllr Tig Outlaw, cabinet member for community safety and public protection, said: “The licensing section will always work with all applicants and licence holders to ensure they achieve the required standards — in most cases this ensures compliance is achieved.

“In this case, however, all avenues had been exhausted and officers were left with no alternative but to take enforcement action to preserve the welfare of the animals.”

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